A Korean man is facing hate crime, robbery, and assault charges after he allegedly beat and robbed Chinese women in separate incidents in Flushing. The Queens District Attorney's Office announced the indictment of Key S. Lee, 34, a former cab driver, yesterday.
"He allegedly sought out these two women because of their race," Queens DA Richard Brown said in a statement. "This kind of bigotry and racism is not acceptable in a civilized society."
Prosecutors say Lee first lashed out on January 27th. His alleged victim was cleaning snow from her car as Lee stood on a nearby corner smoking, according to the DA's Office. When she opened the back door of her car, he allegedly ran over, pushed her into the backseat, closed the car door, and beat her in the face, then grabbed her purse with $2,000 and her credit card and ID inside.
Prosecutors claim that investigators showed Lee a video of the attack and he said that he was angry because of an argument with his wife, and it revived his resentment of Chinese people from his time as a cabbie.
"I wanted to fight someone because the Chinese people were rude and smoking in the car...I wanted to pick a fight and that is when I saw one female cleaning snow and we made eye contact," he allegedly said. "I couldn’t take it any more. I decided she’s the one. I started beating her."
The second attack allegedly took place on February 10th, when prosecutors say Lee punched another woman in the face as she was walking to her apartment building, and grabbed her handbag containing credit cards, ID, and $2,000 cash.
Prosecutors say Lee explained that he had been driving to his home on Hawthorne Avenue when the woman had cut him off without signaling, and he followed her home. This is seemingly contradicted by his next alleged statement: "I don't like the Chinese and I went to Flushing to look for Chinese people."
Lee was arraigned yesterday afternoon on seven felony charges, including assault as a hate crime, unlawful imprisonment, and possession of stolen credit cards. A judge held him on $1 million bail. He faces as many as 50 years in prison. His lawyer at Queens Legal Associates could not be reached for comment.